Sunday, April 12, 2009

Creating a culture of local food

The recent Eat Local Forum at Palmwoods attracted 150 people - a lot of people for a small town and considering the event didn't receive a lot of publicity.

It does show a shift in people's thinking though. For whatever reason, whether its cost, quality, environment, health or ethics, there seems to be a distinct shift toward local food.

Local, organic, in-season food. The renaissance of a local food culture.

So how do you go about creating a local food culture?

Plenty of people around Australia are doing it already - food box systems, community supported agriculture, school gardens, community gardens, permablitzes, farm gate sales... supporting local growers and importantly local food distribution points - including restaurants that support local organic growers.

I found a really interesting and inspiring site from Victoria the other day - the Community Harvest Project -

The Community Harvest Project exists to:
Help individuals and groups to grow or access healthy, sustainable, affordable, locally produced food.
Connect individuals and groups to share skills, knowledge, resources, and create a vibrant, cooperative and resilient community.
Help your community deal with climate change, peak oil and the rising cost of living.

Sounds like a great foundation for a Transition Town food sub-group.

It provides a framework for small scale growers to sell their surplus. For many of us, particularly here in Eudlo where we mostly have acreage, going full time into commercial food production is out of the question, but having a viable outlet to sell our chemical free, high-quality surplus is really appealing.

The Transition Town Eudlo Food Group has decided to start out with dried organic goods to kick off our Eudlo Food Co-operative. We chose dried goods because we have access to them at wholesale prices and because they don't need refrigeration. We also chose dried food as a lot of us already grow most of our fresh food, so there isn't a need for that.

Once we have the dried goods part of the co-op working well, we'll branch out into honey, tahini, tamari, oils... and then ultimately fresh produce: salad greens, vegetables, herbs, sub tropical perennials etc. We may even develop a market for preserves: jams, stewed fruit...

So far, we've had more than 30 - yes, 30! families in the Eudlo and Ilkley area sign up to be involved in the co-op. Another 30+ families in neighbouring towns also want to be part of it.

Sixty families in total to start our co-operative. That's fantastic and very heartening. It did come as a surprise for us, so we're going to rethink how we do this so it is successful, innovative, ethical and economically viable.

It's not to late to join in either, if you live in Eudlo, Ilkley, Palmwoods, Mooloolah or Woombye, get in contact - leave a comment here and you can be part of this exciting adventure!

[Some of these images were sourced from US websites]

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